golf

Yu Jin Sung takes lead into final round of Lotte Championship

South Korea’s Yu Jin Sung completed a steady, 1-under-par 71 on Friday, leaving her with a one-stroke lead entering the final round of the Lotte Championship in Ewa Beach, Hawaii.

Sung sits at 9-under 207 through three rounds at Hoakalei Country Club, just in front of Australia’s Grace Kim, England’s Georgia Hall and Sweden’s Linnea Strom, all at 8 under.

Kim carded a 70 on Friday, while Hall and Strom each had a 71.

Lauren Hartlage (third-round 70), Christina Kim (71), Japan’s Nasa Hataoka (71) and second-round co-leader Natthakritta Vongtaveelap of Thailand (73) share fifth place at 7 under.

Bailey Tardy (65), France’s Celine Boutier (67), Taiwan’s Peiyun Chien (69) and Canada’s Brooke M. Henderson (69) are tied for ninth at 6 under. Henderson was the Ewa Beach champion in 2018 and 2019.

Defending champion Hyo Joo Kim of South Korea shot a 71, leaving her tied for 47th at 1 over.

Sung, who is in the event on a sponsor’s exemption, began the day tied atop the leaderboard with Vongtaveelap. The 22-year-old South Korean birdied her first hole, then made 11 consecutive birdies before her final birdie (at the par-4 13th hole) was followed immediately by her lone bogey (at the par-4 14th hole). She made pars the rest of the way.

A victory on Saturday would give Sung membership on the LPGA Tour.

“I haven’t really thought about the winning part,” she said. “There is still a day left in this tournament. Again, not really thinking about winning but just trying to show my best golf game.

“Wouldn’t say it was difficult per se today. It’s just that my game, just I didn’t play my best game. Our group, there were a lot of ups and downs and wasn’t the smoothest, so that was a little bit tough. But the course condition was great.”

Kim, a rookie who has yet to finish in the top 50 of a tournament, produced three birdies and one bogey. Hall logged four birdies and three bogeys, while Strom had three birdies and two bogeys.

Hall said, “Just got to stay patient out there. My mentality on the golf course is my strongest part of me as a player, my strongest part of my game. I just want to keep that going.”

–Field Level Media

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